Former Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone, while running for leadership of the ruling party in late 1982, sought to arrange an early visit to the United States if he became prime minister, according to a Japanese diplomatic document declassified Thursday.
Nakasone conveyed the wish for a U.S. visit as early as in January 1983 to Gaston Sigur, head of Asian affairs at the U.S. National Security Council, on Nov. 18, 1982, during Sigur’s visit to Japan. At the time, Nakasone was in the middle of a preliminary race for the ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s presidential election.
Nakasone was elected LDP head and thus prime minister later in the month and formed his Cabinet on Nov. 27, 1982. Soon after, the U.S. administration of President Ronald Reagan decided to hold a Japan-U.S. summit in Washington on Jan. 18, 1983.
Nakasone developed close ties with Reagan during his run as leader until 1987. Their bond was often referred to as the “Ron-Yasu” friendship.
Nakasone was eager to visit the United States as soon as possible, but the Japanese Foreign Ministry thought the visit should be held around spring 1983, in light of bilateral trade friction at the time.
According to a separate diplomatic document, before his summit with Reagan, Nakasone told Japanese ambassador to the United States Yoshio Okawara that he wanted to “hold talks with President Reagan from a broad perspective and hit it off well in the spirit of ‘let’s go.’ “
Nakasone also told Okawara that details should be discussed between the foreign ministers of the two countries, not at the summit, knowing that Reagan preferred that talks not get into detail, the document said.
When Reagan visited Japan in November 1983, he gave his thoughts on the presidential election in 1984 during a chat with Nakasone. In turn, Nakasone told him that the House of Representatives, the powerful lower chamber of the Diet, could be dissolved in “December or January.”
The right to dissolve the Lower House is reserved exclusively for the prime minister, and the chamber was in fact dissolved in December.